Elizabeth (Cameron Diaz) is a slutty chaser after a husband of means. Meanwhile, she’s teaching badly at John Adams Middle School, wearing ridiculous heels, and self-medicating in school with controlled and uncontrolled substances. When she stops filling class time by showing students DVDs of films set in classrooms, she grades homework with red-ink feedback: “Are you fucking kidding me?” After her preppy fiancée (“If opera goes away, we’re fucked!”) cancels their wedding, she hits on a dweeby sub at her suburban Chicago middle school. In SNL skit mode, Justin Timberlake plays this Scott Delacorte, a scion of a haute couture eyewear line. On a Lincoln-themed field trip to Springfield, he natters: “I just hate slavery so, so much. If I could go back in time and undo slavery, I would. I would.” Elizabeth sees that his ex and her own ex’s new squeeze both have big breasts, so she starts raising $9,300 for cosmetic surgery to get her own pair ballooned. “Bad Teacher” follows her scams with the school carwash cash and a state-test-score bonus, while she competes with another teacher for Scott. Writers Gene Stupnitsky and Lee Eisenberg depart from the usual syllabus for the misfit teacher sub-genre by minimizing Elizabeth’s redeeming denouement. The funny result is arguably, if unforgivably, misogynist. Apart from clunky placing of Dunkin’ Donuts cups, director Jake Kasdan (“The TV Set,” “Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story”) handles those cast members who lack logos with well-crafted coarse humor. Especially effective are supporting characters Phyllis Smith and Jason Segel, the gym teacher who is wise to out-of-his league Elizabeth. With Lucy Punch, John Michael Higgins, Dave Allen. 89m. (Bill Stamets)
“Bad Teacher” opens Friday.
Ray Pride is Newcity’s film critic and a contributing editor to Filmmaker magazine.
His multimedia history of Chicago “Ghost Signs” will be published soon. Previews of the project are on Twitter and on Instagram as Ghost Signs Chicago. More photography on Instagram.